As Kankakee County State’s Attorney, Jim Rowe has one of the best seats in the house to view crime in the county.

So, when he talks about gun violence in our community, we listen. And we did that intently on Thursday morning as he offered the keynote address at the 2021 Legislative Breakfast.

The room grew quiet that morning as Rowe laid out where he thought some of the blame lies for our community’s violence problem. You can read all about his talk on Page One of today’s edition. Here, though, we’ll tell you what we took away from his address.

Somewhere along the line, it became acceptable to let some children slip through the cracks. Maybe the child became too difficult. Maybe there was no getting through to the parents. Maybe there were no parents and the child ricocheted his or her way through the system.

Whatever the case, for some children it became OK to “throw them away.” But you know what they say about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure. That adage holds true here as well, but in this scenario, sadly, it’s the gangs picking up the “trash.”

When our children don’t have a place to belong, a place that they are cared for and loved, they become easy targets for gangs to lure away with promises of the family and belonging they so desperately want.

Rather, what awaits them in these gangs is not love; it’s not commitment; it’s not caring. No, they seek to manipulate these children into doing their dirty work. To put the guns in their hands and let them be the instrument for their brand of justice. To let them take the fall when the police come blazing with lights and sirens.

But this isn’t how it should be. All children deserve the full weight of our care and concern. All children have the right to belong. All children should at least be given a fighting chance at a free and happy life.

So, Rowe says, if we want to fix the violence problem plaguing our community, we need to first look to the children.